By Joseph Fazio
San Francisco 49ers (2-10) at Houston Texans (4-8) (FOX, 12 P.M., Sunday)
Throwing for almost 300 yards in a win against the Chicago Bears, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has immersed himself in the 49ers’ system. In his first career start as a 49er, Garoppolo had a respectful 70 percent completion percentage. The only bad mark on Garoppolo’s first test was an early interception. However, wide receiver Louis Murphy should take responsibility for the pick, as cornerback Kyle Fuller ripped the ball out of his hands. This week, Jimmy G and the 49ers’ offense go up against the battered Houston defense. Houston’s defense is still feeling the effects of playing without defensive end J.J. Watt and linebacker Whitney Mercilus. It will still be a difficult matchup for Garappolo, but he could lead the team to its third win of the season, surpassing last season’s record of 2-14.
Quarterback Tom Savage’s play has been less than acceptable after how Deshaun Watson started the season. Houston’s previous three games saw Savage throw for four touchdowns and four interceptions. The Texans are also plagued with the injury bug, as four receivers are on the injury report. The defense has also been lacking, as the Texans allow 25.8 points per game. With an injured receiving core and defense, the Texans are in dire need of some help.
Prediction: San Francisco 20, Houston 13
Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) at Los Angeles Rams (9-3) (FOX, 3:25 P.M., Sunday)
It’s the battle of the 2016 NFL Draft as the Philadelphia Eagles head west to play the Los Angeles Rams. Both quarterback Carson Wentz and Jared Goff are having exceptional seasons with similar statistical numbers. The Philadelphia Eagles are coming off a tough Monday night loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Wentz still ranks first in touchdown with 29, but New England’s Tom Brady is closing the gap. Wide receiver Nelson Agholor has continued to improve every week, including a 141 receiving yards and one touchdown game against the Seahawks. Both teams are on top of the respective division, which spells a great game.
The Los Angeles Rams look to extend their win total to 10, a feat they have not accomplished since 2003. Goff ranks ninth among starting quarterbacks with a 98.4 passer rating. Running back Todd Gurley II has jumped to No. 2 in rushing yards with 939. Gurley, in his third year out of Georgia, also ranks second in rushing touchdowns with nine. However, the Eagles allow the least amount of rushing yards per game, allowing only 68.1 yards. The Eagles are equipped with two powerful running backs in Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount. This spells trouble for the Rams, who allow a sixth-worst 122.8 rushing yards per game. This week may come all down to how well each defense plays.
Prediction: Philadelphia 27, Los Angeles 17
New England Patriots (10-2) at Miami Dolphins (5-7) (ESPN, 7:30 P.M., Monday)
This week’s Monday Night Football features a matchup between AFC East opponents in the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins. Brady has closed the gap for passing touchdowns, only one behind Carson Wentz. However, Brady’s favorite target, tight end Rob Gronkowski, is serving a one-game suspension for his late hit on Bills’ cornerback Tre’Davious White. New England’s defense has done a complete 180 since the start of the season. After starting the season with one of the league’s worst defenses, the Patriots have jumped to No. 8 for least points allowed per game. This week could be another great feat for the Patriots, who can increase their win streak to nine.
After losing to the Patriots in Foxborough two weeks ago, the Miami Dolphins picked themselves up with a 35-9 victory against Denver. Quarterback Jay Cutler finished the game with 235 passing yards and two touchdowns, while also throwing two interceptions. Running back Kenyan Drake has stepped up his game Ajayi was traded, rushing for 120 yards and a touchdown against the Broncos. The Patriots’ defense allows on average 120.8 rushing yards per game. Expect Drake to take advantage of New England’s defense on Monday night.
Prediction: New England 30, Miami 7